by Rowan Wyatt
As a Celtic Christian and a member of the Community of St. Aidan and St. Hilda I revere Aidan and his works. I revere his way of being and hold him in admiration for all he achieved in his lifetime.
Here I want to focus on his way of being with the people, on his way of spreading the Gospel whilst amongst them and how this way of being should be core in our lives and faith journeys today. In fact, I would go as far as to say in this uncertain, unpredictable time that it should be an essential practice.
St. Aidan was known as a man of the people, he was respected as being one who would talk to everyone as equals, status was not something that concerned him or got in his way for he would speak and spent time with the lowliest peasant or the highest of Lords. He spoke to and with the people not at them, he taught the people, rather than ‘educating’ them, and he did it all with a heart of love and compassion and a soul full of wisdom and understanding.
In these rather strange times we are living in isn’t Aidan’s example be something we should be following? Loneliness, despair, solitude, and indifference are modern-day problems of large proportions. Suicide numbers, especially amongst men, are rising. Working hours are rising along with decreased job security, hand in hand with financial instability. We need each other more than ever now.
As Aidan went amongst the people so should we. I am not suggesting that we go on a public soapbox for in these modern days I am quite sure that is counterproductive, no I suggest we should be going amongst others and get to know them. Talk to them, come alongside them, befriend them.
People are desperate for community, they are longing to be heard, to be accompanied, to be supported, but we also have a need to be there for others. We will never grow in the Gospel we are preaching if we do not listen to one another, and be there for them in their times of need. Nor will that Good News seem of any relevance if we are not living it out ourselves.
Likewise, people need to trust us and respect us, as they did Aidan and his friend Hilda, if we are going to earn the right to speak about our faith with them. An egalitarian, honouring approach, where we see ourselves as “the least of these,” is very much needed in these times, perhaps especially amongst younger people, who view authority figures and religion as things to distrust. We need to humble ourselves and earn the right to speak by first and always acting out of Christ’s love. That way, instead of preaching at people, we shall always be simply speaking amongst friends.